You Asked It!

What’s in Your Refrigerator?

What triggers your decision to toss a food in the refrigerator? Or how do you decide to keep a certain food? Little research has been done to learn about the contents and management of home refrigerators. This appliance is key in managing food waste.

Research was conducted by The Ohio State University and Louisiana State University. Consumers were asked about how they decide to discard or keep food. A majority used odor, looks safe to eat, or passed date on package as deciding factors. Those who cleaned their refrigerator regularly often wasted more food, and in many cases could keep some of those foods.

There continues to be a lot of confusion about what date labels mean in reference to ‘use by’,  ‘best by’ and others. There is a proposal in U.S. Congress to simplify labels to “best if used by” which translates to “follow your nose” and “use by” which would mean “toss it.”

Learn more about this study and on food waste at


About Karen Blakeslee

The Rapid Response Center was formed in 1995 as a resource for Kansas State University Research & Extension Agents. Resource topics included Food Science, Human Nutrition, Food Service, Textiles, Home Care and other consumer topics. Since that time, the Center has grown to be of valuable assistance to Kansas State University Extension Specialists in those areas.

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